I created a video series on how to use basic gym equipment for those new to the gym, and two comments I got made the case perfectly for why the basics are needed.
I have made 8 videos so far, including how to use spring collars to secure weights on a barbell, adjusting different types of benches, using a Smith machine, and setting up the cable machine. One of my videos on the difference between the straight and wavy (Olympic vs EZ curl) barbells has gotten about 30,000 views. This may not be a lot for an influencer’s videos, but this is a lot for me!
When I went into a gym that had both kinds of bars, I stopped dead in my tracks. I wanted to do deadlifts, and had only been using my barebones office gym. I had never seen these wavy bars, and suddenly what I thought I knew was thrown into chaos. What the heck were those curly bars used for and are they okay for deadlifts? Are they actually what I’m supposed to use? It seemed like such a basic thing that I should know that I was terrified of doing the wrong thing. The first time in that gym, I just skipped deadlifts altogether.
So when an anonymous account commented “Wtf. A vid for this,” I knew immediately that my reasoning for making this video was validated. It is so basic, but still something that needs to be learned. No one knows intuitively from birth what a dumbbell is for. They learn what it is by watching people use it, asking people about it, reading about it, or otherwise being taught. It’s the same with the other gym equipment. If people think it’s too basic to have a video for, then there aren’t enough resources out there about it.
When you have experts or people who have been doing something for a while, they forget the absolute baseline. They forget what it’s like to be brand new at something.
Later that day, I got a comment saying, “thank you for this, I’m always scared to go to the gym and use machines because I’m worried I’ll do something wrong and get made fun of.” It was the second validation that people need help feeling confident with the absolute basics. I had the exact same experience when I started going to the gym.
Going to the gym was scary for me
I did group fitness classes for years because going into the gym and being on my own scared me. I had a gym membership right after college, and I remember going in a few times, sprinting on the treadmill for a few minutes, and then leaving because I had no idea what to do next or how to use the equipment. A trainer did go through some machines with me, and those were the only ones I felt comfortable using. I canceled my membership after about a month.
The fear of looking dumb kept me away from the gym for years. Instead, I did group fitness classes where I felt more comfortable with an instructor. Once I made the leap and went to the gym 12 years later, I was STILL terrified because I thought I was going to be judged. That fear is imprinted on my soul!
I didn’t know what any of the equipment was called, let alone how to use it. Sure, my program called for decline bench press, but before even getting to the correct form, I didn’t even know what to use or how to use it. Which bench was a decline bench? Could any bench be a decline bench? How do I release the bar in the Smith machine? How do I load the weights? What are the different parts that I need to adjust?
I decided to make my introduction to gym equipment videos because I didn’t want people to feel the way I did. I want people to be able to walk into the gym with at least some familiarity that they recognize the equipment and know the general concepts. If they need to refer back to see the details, they can rewatch the videos before going, in the locker room, at the machine, or in the middle of their set. I want them to have that resource. I don’t want people to put off going to the gym (like I did) out of a fear of looking stupid.
Let me tell you something: no one has ever made me feel dumb for not knowing something. I know my experience is not universal, but my fear of being made fun of or thought of as less than were never realized. Now, I’m confident enough to not care even if someone was trying to make me feel inadequate. The more that I know about the culture, the more I realize that anyone who even would do that is so insecure, and they resent you having the courage to try or the courage to ask.
Because they didn’t. Because they were (or are) too scared of looking dumb, and their only way to feel good about their knowledge would be putting someone down. And honestly, I don’t care what people like that think of me; they have their own issues to work out.
As much as I say that, I’ll be honest, that fear of being judged it hasn’t fully gone away. I still feel that fear and anxiety welling up inside of me any time my programming has me doing something unfamiliar. If people think about me, I want people to view me as capable. I don’t want people to have to rescue me from underneath a bar that I loaded too heavy. But people will rush to help you, because it’s their biggest fear too, and they understand.